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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: May 10th, 2011, 5:23 pm 
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Dear members,

Please let me underline the content of a topic previously written by me.

It is Paolo Zagami Lawyer writing. Sorry for the long absence from the Forum but we are now back.

The reason for this silence is that we have been busy changing the locations of our law firm and recruiting new professionals who could finalize the many legal practices of “Zagamilaw”, which also thanks to your positive feedback, has grown to the point of becoming the most important international law firm based in Calabria with more than 50 pleased British clients who have invested in second homes. Furthermore ZGML has achieved numerous contacts in America and Canada, nations whose law is based on a common law system exactly like the one in United Kingdom.

Now we are available again and ready to give our contribute to this great and useful Forum with new juridical advice and to promote our legal services. In this regard, me and my new legal assistant Ms. Emily May Giordani (English mother tongue) will be happy to answer each query and meet you personally in one of our offices in Reggio Calabria or Rome or somewhere in London by appointment.

Thank you for all your positive comments that you have expressed on our law firm to this point and we hope to meet soon everyone who would like to use “Zagamilaw International Law Firm”.

Please for more information about us, to get to know our services or for legal advice visit our website http://www.zagamilaw.com and feel free to contact us at our UK line which is +44.(0)20.32862319, you will be more than welcome.

Avvocato Paolo Zagami
Zagamilaw International Law Firm
Reggio Calabria – Rome – New York – Toronto
info@zagamilaw.com
http://www.zagamilaw.com


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 16th, 2011, 2:20 pm 
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Paolo/Anyone ITK,

Could you please explain exactly what services a lawyer should provide a client as part of an Italian property purchase?

From what we've been able to glean so far, it's something of a grey area.

For instance, on a UK property purchase, a solicitor would complete all the appropriate local and land registry searches, conduct due diligence in establishing clean title and no encumbrance etc. draw up the appropriate contract and handle all matters up to and including completion.

We've got the impression that in Italy, the Notary performs many if not all of the above.

On any property transaction our 1st instinct would be to use a solicitor/lawyer but it's difficult to understand what service they actually provide in Italy, when you consider the role of the Notary.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 16th, 2011, 2:54 pm 
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Location: Italy
bearandcub wrote:
land registry searches, conduct due diligence in establishing clean title and no encumbrance etc. draw up the appropriate contract and handle all matters up to and including completion.

We've got the impression that in Italy, the Notary performs many if not all of the above.


Your impression is right. In fact Italians do not normally hire a lawyer. My advice is to proceed in the manner that you are most comfortable with.

Dennis.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 16th, 2011, 4:40 pm 
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Thanks Dennis, - I'm sure given your experience in the Italian property market, your recommendation is unbiased and well-founded.

But given the answer you have provided, how do Italian Lawyer's justify their fee's - typically 1% of the purchase price? My relatively limited experience would suggest that at best, they do little more than act as a liason between the purchaser and the Notary and/or agent.

Would it be fair to say that unless there are particular complications with a house purchase, then a Lawyer is just an expensive luxury? And to be fair to the Lawyers who contribute to this forum, their main contribution seems to apply to issues and disputes that sometimes occur during a property transaction, when indeed they are no doubt indispensable.

I would be interested to receive a Lawyer's answer to my question.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 17th, 2011, 5:29 pm 
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Location: Italy
I do not think a lawyer is a luxury. There are properties on the market that are very straight forward to purchase and where the paperwork is clearly in order, for example because we checked it, because many notary acts have been done already or one of our trusted lawyers have done a due diligence.

As in any business, not all lawyers are equal, not all are worth their money but I would definitely recommend an experienced, thorough, independent and tenacious lawyer particularly if you are not buying from InCalabria!

How is that for unbiased advice?

Dennis.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 18th, 2011, 4:23 pm 
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Dennis Onstenk wrote:
I do not think a lawyer is a luxury. There are properties on the market that are very straight forward to purchase and where the paperwork is clearly in order, for example because we checked it, because many notary acts have been done already or one of our trusted lawyers have done a due diligence.

As in any business, not all lawyers are equal, not all are worth their money but I would definitely recommend an experienced, thorough, independent and tenacious lawyer particularly if you are not buying from InCalabria!

How is that for unbiased advice?

Dennis.


So the advice is: 'Don't trust anyone but InCalabria'.

That's as unbiased as anyone could wish for... :D


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 18th, 2011, 7:49 pm 
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Location: Italy
bearandcub wrote:
So the advice is: 'Don't trust anyone but InCalabria'.


Jokes aside, there are actually a lot of good people in the business but alas, larger does not necessarily translate to better. This applies clearly to both agents and law firms.

Like anywhere, I would advise a potential buyer to be critical, cautious and when in doubt to check with a professional and multiple sources including this website.

Hope this helps,

Dennis.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 18th, 2011, 9:51 pm 
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Joined: March 20th, 2009, 8:32 pm
Posts: 166
Hi all
please try
Jolanda Ferrigno
VFL & Partners International Law Firm
Palazzo Cappelleri, Via Cappelleri s.n.c 89047
Roccella Jonica (RC) Italy
tel/ fax 0039 (0) 964 866895
tel 0039 (0) 064310562
mob 0039 329 4478642
jolanda@vfllawyers.co.uk
www.vfllawyers.co.uk

We went with Jolanda,
after many issues with you know who,

Also you will find many postings on this forum
recommending her,


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 19th, 2011, 8:43 am 
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Posts: 76
Anyone wishing to hire a lawyer should also check out Roberto Viscomi, he has been highly recommended and praised by many on this forum and we can speak from personal experience - a truly nice genuine guy. his details are on the forum but if you can't find them please pm me and I will gladly forward it on.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 19th, 2011, 10:00 pm 
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Posts: 58
Without going into all the details, we actually instructed a Lawyer who has been recommended by other members of this forum. We felt his service was so poor we had no option but to dispense with his services.

What we're trying to establish is, just how much of a ride have we been taken for, or is this par for the course? Hence the very genuine question of what services should a Lawyer perform as part of a typical house purchase?

We appreciate there are good, bad and indifferent operators in any profession but we would be anxious to help any future purchasers avoid some of the issues we have experienced.

We apologise in advance if this offends any of the Lawyers who contribute to this forum but all the good one's should be as anxious as anyone to distance themselves from the one's that could give the profession a bad name.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 20th, 2011, 9:36 am 
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Posts: 1105
Location: Italy
Hi BearAndCup - and others,

I now fully understand the nature of your question and have put some thought into it.

An Italian lawyer should:
- check the preliminary contract's validity and compliance to current law
- check titles
- do a 'visura' to check for claims on the property
- check building permit and send a geometra or architect to check on site where applicable (extra charges may apply)
- check bank guarantee, it's issuer, conditions and dates (only applicable for off plan or under construction)
- negotiate conditions on your behalf for penalty clauses for: missing deadlines, contract registration, property finishing level, site finishing level, sold accessories (pool, gates etc)
- ensure the contract gets registered

A thing lawyers don't know, unfortunately, is the history of a local building site. The site may be slow, temporarily stopped by the authorities for breach of building regulations or it is owned by unreliable people or companies. Often they will refer to local people like me, estate agents, surveyors or architects to find out what the history of the property is. A good lawyer will have developed a network of professionals in the areas where he or she is active that can advise him or her on these matters that can not be inferred by studying the paperwork.

Local lawyers will know what is going on in an area, but will have ties that may influence their opinion of a property one way or another. If you are looking to buy in a certain province you may check English speaking lawyers in that province or region's capital. For example, if you are buying in Tropea, get a lawyer from Catanzaro or Reggio Calabria or further away. An advantage of taking a lawyer from your own country is that you can check your rights in your own language to ascertain the level of protection you get from hiring a lawyer and your rights if that lawyer does not deliver.

To purchase a property I would contact (in alphabetical order):

De Tullio, Giandomenico in Apulia
Menato, Michele (International Property Law Center) in London
Metta, Nicola (Studio Metta) in Apulia
Viscomi, Roberto in Catanzaro and Milan
Zagami, Paolo (Zagami Law) in Reggio Calabria and Rome

I do not vouch for these firms, but their clients appear to be mostly happy with the services received. If I am missing any lawyers in this list it is because I have not heard from them, forgotten them, or otherwise have no opinion on them. If you disagree, feel free to add to this topic - it will be useful to others.

I cannot recommend Giambrone Law based on my own personal experience with them.

I also cannot recommend lawyers to solve problems created by previous lawyers but some appear to be more successful than others.

I hope this helps,

Dennis.


Last edited by admin on October 3rd, 2011, 10:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
clarified second paragraph


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 21st, 2011, 9:59 pm 
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For anyone interested in this thread, I have PM'd Dennis giving him more details of our experience and await his response/opinion.

Unfortunately, the Lawyer concerned is one listed above and we want to avoid posting anything that might be considered unreasonable. Having said that, we feel that other prospective purchasers referencing this Forum for advice should be made aware of what to expect and, in just the same way as it is appropriate to praise good service, we should also feel free to publicise poor service, in the hope this incentivises service providers to maintain high standards and if they don't, others are not taken advantage of.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 22nd, 2011, 12:00 pm 
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Posts: 1105
Location: Italy
Hi, feel free to share your experience, it helps all of us!

Dennis.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2011, 2:18 pm 
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Whilst nothing like experts, we feel we've learned a lot over the past months and will draft an account of our experiences, along with our recommendations of how to avoid some of the pitfalls. Hopefully it will assist other purchasers in the future. Anyone who would like some guidance in the meantime is welcome to send a PM.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 25th, 2011, 9:55 pm 
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Interestingly, said Lawyer has just responded to our e-mail sent last Wednesday, having ignored our previous communication where we provided evidence to support our claims. He has suggested we might meet to discuss the situation. In fairness to him, we will endeavour to arrange a meeting and give him the opportunity to explain the poor service we believe we have experienced.

We still intend to make the post (as promised above) that will hopefully act as a guide for would-be purchasers in how to select a Lawyer and the safeguards they can adopt.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 26th, 2011, 7:05 pm 
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Location: Canada
bearandcub wrote:
Interestingly, said Lawyer has just responded to our e-mail sent last Wednesday, having ignored our previous communication where we provided evidence to support our claims. He has suggested we might meet to discuss the situation. In fairness to him, we will endeavour to arrange a meeting and give him the opportunity to explain the poor service we believe we have experienced.

We still intend to make the post (as promised above) that will hopefully act as a guide for would-be purchasers in how to select a Lawyer and the safeguards they can adopt.

I would strongly advise any potential purchaser to seek a very good lawyer pay the extra if need be. I read this blog daily and have experianced some of the unknown surprises as most during the proccess of completeing. I have never not been able to get in touch with VFI through our Lawyer, and he has been on top of the purchase since day one, even with the builder, as far as no toilet seat, shower door that is our fault not investigating and asuming.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 26th, 2011, 7:43 pm 
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beynon wrote:
bearandcub wrote:
Interestingly, said Lawyer has just responded to our e-mail sent last Wednesday, having ignored our previous communication where we provided evidence to support our claims. He has suggested we might meet to discuss the situation. In fairness to him, we will endeavour to arrange a meeting and give him the opportunity to explain the poor service we believe we have experienced.

We still intend to make the post (as promised above) that will hopefully act as a guide for would-be purchasers in how to select a Lawyer and the safeguards they can adopt.

I would strongly advise any potential purchaser to seek a very good lawyer pay the extra if need be. I read this blog daily and have experianced some of the unknown surprises as most during the proccess of completeing. I have never not been able to get in touch with VFI through our Lawyer, and he has been on top of the purchase since day one, even with the builder, as far as no toilet seat, shower door that is our fault not investigating and asuming.


We can't disagree with this advice, however the trick is in establishing a good Lawyer...

We reviewed this forum and took references from satisfied clients - frankly it counted for nothing. And, it pains me to admit it but, if one little incident hadn't alerted us and made us take a long hard look at what was going on, we too would've carried on in blissful ignorance of the fact we were being massively overcharged and for a service so bad, it nearly caused the sellers to withdraw. No doubt we'd have also given the guy a good reference at the end.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: July 31st, 2011, 1:00 pm 
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Zagamilaw wrote:
Good morning,

It is Emily May Giordani writing for "Zagamilaw International Law Firm" just to let you know that our offices will be now closing for the summer season. But once we come back at work our main partner will be pleased to explain why a lawyer's support can be very useful in Italy.

Best Regards

Emily May Giordani
Zagamilaw International Law Firm
http://www.zagamilaw.com


Emily, I am sure there are many reasons why a Lawyer's support could be useful and I for one welcome your input to the debate. My original poser to the Forum was - what does a Lawyer actually do? I suspect that most people expect that they'll complete a similar service to a UK Lawyer but that doesn't seem to be true.

If purchasers had a clear understanding of the role, then this would reduce misunderstandings and enable them to hold their Lawyer to account if a particular duty isn't fulfilled in an effective and timely manner.

I think it may be important to distinquish how the service might differ between an off-plan purchase as opposed to a resale property.

We look forward to your article.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2011, 9:34 pm 
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I've been giving some thought as to how we could productively use the time whilst we await input from the professionals. One of the earlier posters uses the term 'blog' and I thought we might start a retrospective blog on our house purchase experiences and suggest the lessons that can be learned. If other interested members can add their contributions then the thread might become a useful reference for future purchasers.

I'll start in early February 2011 when, after seeing an interesting property the previous month, we decided to enquire about legal services and the associated costs. People say you don't need a Lawyer to buy a property in Italy but given all the bad press, we felt that it was the safest way to proceed and if anything went wrong having done that, then we wouldn't have any recriminations against ourselves.

We had become members of this forum because, although we had a very good knowledge of Northern Italy, Calabria was a new experience and we had no contacts in this area.

Having studied various posts on the subject and having sought references from several forum members, we contacted 3 Lawyers (all mentioned earlier). The first was happy to provide the information requested but then failed to provide details of a local Geometra - so we crossed him off our list.

The second gave the impression of an exuberant puppy - only too willing to please. Given the briefest description of the property i.e. price and location (nothing more), he responded with ''Honestly XXX.000 euro of selling price seems to be very expensive and not convenient...can you please let me know if this house is already built?''. When we supplied a more detailed description', the response came back that the area isn't the best and I can find you a better property for much less. When put to the test, of course he couldn't. Now I expect a critical part of any legal work and, certainly before making any pronouncements, is to gather all the facts, weigh them up very carefully then decide. This character seemed to have everything back to front and there was no way we wanted that kind of representation.

So that left us with Lawyer No.3 - you can guess that by now, it probably wasn't going to take much to impress us. From the start No.3 expressed a preference to talk - over the phone and he couldn't wait to meet us in person. Initially, the charm and his undoubted knowledge of English life and values worked. His fees also seemed very reasonable - a fixed fee of 2,500 euros that included a survey. Luckily for us, I reiterated everything he told me over the phone back to him in an e-mail and asked him to confirm my understanding - a trait that would prove invaluable later on...

So that was it - we'd decided on a Lawyer and with a second viewing arranged in March, we hoped we would be able to commence the buying process within a month or so. My next blog will take things up from then.

Lessons learned:

1. Don't just rely on the references of others - in so many ways their circumstances could be very different to yours, it is no guarantee you will enjoy the same experience.

2. Regardless of yours or the Lawyers communication preferences - have everything confirmed in writing. It helps clarify understanding and can be an invaluable reference should things go wrong.

3. Ask the Lawyer to list the actual services he will perform with an approximate timeline. Without this you're really going blind and will have no idea as to whether things are on course or not. It's a fantastic smokescreen for someone not doing their job and will ultimately cost you money. Do not (as we did) just assume it's going to be similar to back home.

4. If a survey is included or to be arranged by the Lawyer, obtain a copy of the type of survey you want performing from the RICS website and e-mail a copy stating this is what you expect. We requested and were assured in writing that we would have a full structural survey. The report that we ultimately received was next to useless with some obvious issues left without comment. In all seriousness, you'd be better off obtaining the details of a local Geometra or Architect and keeping this independent.

5. Don't just ask for details of the Lawyers fees. They all have a favourite Notary and/or interpreter. Obtain an estimate of their fees by giving your maximum purchase price. If they refuse to provide this information then don't use them. There is a scale of Notary fees published by the authorities so providing a very good estimate is easy - unless they're hiding something that is!!!

6. Obtain a quote from an independant Notary, preferably in the area you are purchasing the property. More often than not, the Lawyer's preferred associates are based in a town close to them and will involve unecessary travel and inconvenience for all bar the Lawyer. But more importantly, you will be able to compare this and establish whether the fees in No.3 above are reasonable.

That's all until the next episode - well done if you made it to the end.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2011, 1:11 pm 
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Location: Italy
bearandcub wrote:
When we supplied a more detailed description', the response came back that the area isn't the best and I can find you a better property for much less.


Thank you very much for your input, I am sure it will be useful to many, starting with me. The above quote is, of course, bang out of order.

Dennis.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 5:17 pm 
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Something I hadn't mentioned above when trying to decide on a Lawyer was to check the UK and US Italian Consulates, just to try and ensure they were legitimate. Interestingly, the one we settled on was registered on the US site but not the UK. It demonstrates that being listed by the Consulate is no guarantee the Lawyer will do a good job for you.

I'd love to know what checks the Consulates make before listing a Lawyer - does anyone know before I contact them to find out more?

Also, I've included a link to a PDF that details the scale of charges for Notary services in completing a house purchase. It's not dated so I can't guarantee it's up to date but the wide variance within the price bands illustrates the need to shop around and/or confirm with your Lawyer etc. before you commit.

http://www.smaf-legal.com/Real-estate-I ... ry-fee.pdf


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 7th, 2011, 8:23 am 
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Posts: 45
Does anyone know if there is a set scale of Notary charges for completing with a mortgage please.... is there an additional fee payable as well as the original Notary fee?


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 7th, 2011, 2:04 pm 
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Location: N Ireland
wwheels, I had to pay an additional 1600 euros for the notary fee for the mortgage (plus original 2600 notary fees)


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 7th, 2011, 2:29 pm 
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Location: San Lucido
If you have a look at this website, which is the official site for Notaries, it gives an explanation of the costs involved. It is in English.

http://www.notariato.it/en/italian-nota ... vices.html

The amount is set by law within price bands for differing properties, but does allow for some discretion by the particular notary, hence the difference in prices quoted for the same sale.

You as the buyer stipulate the Notary, as you are paying for them, so get a few quotes, it can save you thousands.

Hope this helps

Sue & Pete


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 8th, 2011, 2:52 pm 
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Thanks all for that, and the website is really useful!

Regards
Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 8th, 2011, 4:19 pm 
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Location: N Ireland
"You as the buyer stipulate the Notary, as you are paying for them, so get a few quotes, it can save you thousands".

Yakamoz, thanks for the website which is useful. The above may be what should happen but at my complex the builder insisted that we used a notary of his choice which just so happened to be at the upper end of the range of costs (even though my solicitor wanted to use an alternative notary).


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 11th, 2011, 8:23 pm 
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Blog continued:

So it's now mid-March. We'd decided on our Lawyer and it was a matter of having a second look at the property, which helped by the weather, looked better than ever.

The house needed a few minor works doing and we decided to obtain an indicative quote from a local tradesman. By 5th April we were pleased to confirm to the Lawyer that we wished to proceed to the next stage and requested he arrange the full structural survey and to hold-off completing any of the legal due diligence until we were certain there would be no show-stoppers.

Our instructions to the Lawyer were crystal clear - we required a full structural survey, plus we asked for several specific items to be addressed by the Architect. These concerned some damp areas, an issue with drainage and the value and suitability of the property for a mortgage. All straightforward enough you would think... Oh and we again asked him to provide an estimate of the total buying costs and taxes - request No.2 the 1st one being when we enquired about his services in Feb.

We advised that we were due to take a holiday on 20th April and, if at all possible, would like to have the survey report before we went away. This turned out to be way too optimistic as the survey wasn't carried out until 21st April and we didn't receive the report until a whole month after that. And what a report it was - with copies of every conceivable relevant document and plenty of images of the house and gardens but hardly any commentary about the condition of the structure and not one of my questions had been addressed. The report was titled 'Preliminary Report'!!!!

Several e-mails later we managed to obtain some of the answers and gave up trying for the rest - we were assured it was the 'Italian way' - at this point we decided to lower our expectations and try to accept that things are different when buying a property in Italy. We made written request No.3 for an estimate on buying costs in one of these e-mails, as much more detail was now known about the property including the cadastral value and the land classifications etc.

At this stage it would be appropriate to mention that we had made some local contacts, who also had good access to the vendor through a mutual acquaintance. I can only say that we have been truly fortunate that through this whole process, they have become good friends and without whom, we genuinely believe we would almost certainly have lost this property not to mention our sanity.

Bear in mind we could only accept the Lawyers assurances that everything we were experiencing was quite normal, you can imagine our concern when by the 26th May, our friends made us aware that the vendor was becoming seriously anxious about the lack of contact and more importantly, the apparent lack of any progress with regards to the sale. Worst of all, there were now 2 further parties interested in the house.

Who could blame them? Almost 2 months had lapsed since the survey had been requested and they hadn't received any contact with regards to our intentions. With no agent involved and the vendor not being able to speak any English, all contact was being handled by our trusted Lawyer, or so we thought.

When we made the Lawyer aware of the situation, his initial response was bordering on panic - ''you must come over to Calabria as soon as possible''. Within 24 hours this changed to ''buying a house isn't like buying a loaf of bread you know - it takes time''...

To be continued.

Lessons learned:

1. Make sure you obtain any facts that are important to you in writing and before you pay any money. Ask for a sample survey report, so you can see exactly what their interpretation of a survey is - it might be quite different to yours.

2. I strongly recommend you find yourself a local interpreter and let them obtain a few quotes and details from independent surveyors local to the property you are interested in.

3. Get the Lawyer and or Geometra/Architect to commit to a reasonable timeline for carrying out the survey and delivering the report.

4. Request a written progress report - I'd suggest weekly but fortnightly at the very least. It's quite reasonable to know what actions your Lawyer etc. has completed for you and when - they'll only have a problem with this if they're doing nothing or they're too busy - if it's the latter, they're probably not giving your affairs the attention they deserve anyway.

5. Any request for information that goes unanswered should have alarm bells ringing. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see we were too relaxed about letting things go. After 2 attempts with the Architect, we just decided we knew enough to proceed but there's no way we should've accepted this. As you will find out in our later accounts, despite at least 3 further written requests, we never did have the buying costs confirmed.

6. Although not mentioned so far, we suspected the Lawyer's main objective in introducing the Architect was for them to secure any project that might arise. The detail within the survey relevant to the fabric of the building was very poor to non-existant. Also, when we made it known we had local tradesmen providing quotes, the Lawyer was very quick to advise 'don't do anything until the Architect has given his opinion' - this would normally be very sound advice, apart from the fact that later on, an unnecessary meeting was arranged on-site with the Architect and all they wanted to discuss was where we could add a new door etc. etc. - you've probably got the picture by now.

7. Any buyer wants to be able to trust the various professionals involved in their purchase. The problem for most of us is we don't have a good enough command of the Italian language, let alone the technical vocabulary applicable to legal and structural matters and at best, we have a vague understanding of the purchase process. We also don't want to risk offending someone by asking something that might seem to be challenging their integrity. These factors make us vulnerable and the first thing is understanding that and trying to do the things we can, to reduce the risk.

Don't fall for the 'charm and smarm' merchants. Politely but firmly deal with the hard facts first and the rest can follow once someone has earned your trust.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 23rd, 2011, 11:30 pm 
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Moved to appropriate section so it is easier to find. Very informative indeed.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: August 28th, 2011, 4:24 pm 
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Blog continued:

So flights are booked with the anticaption that we would have a Preliminary Contract finalised during our visit in June... But within a couple of weeks this doesn't seem to be absolutely certain - not to worry, if we can't complete the contract signing during our visit we can give our Lawyer and/or Notary the Power of Attorney and, if necessary, all can be completed after we've returned home.

With hindsight, we accepted the situation far too easily. We did e-mail the Lawyer after he had panicked us into agreeing to arrange this visit, by asking several questions but we failed to press him for answers. This was a big mistake because we never did receive the answers, which had we done so, would have probably saved an unnecessary visit and several thousand euros. Although our instincts were telling us things just didn't seem right, we were perhaps relieved that things seemed to be progressing (at last) and after all, why have a dog and bark yourself? We'd decided at the outset that we wanted a Lawyer to look after our interests and we should be able to trust him to do his job.

So we were genuinely excited when we arrived in Calabria on 17th June. We arrived at the property at the appointed hour. The vendors were there - charming people who have no command of English but mercifully, my wife is pretty good with her conversational Italian, which was just as well as the Lawyer and Architect finally pitched-up over an hour late.

Once all the talking was done and everyone departed, we asked ourselves - why was our presence necessary? We had virtually no input into what was supposed to be, the finishing detail on the Prelim Contract. And whilst we loved visiting the property again, it was difficult to see why we were needed. Oh that's right - the Architect came along to discuss any questions we might have about the survey etc. He seemed utterly disinterested when explaining the damp area he had failed to mention in his survey but his enthusiasm became evident, when he started pointing out where we could add some new french doors etc. He became totally deflated when we made it clear we wouldn't be doing anything until after we'd moved in. We shouldn't admit it but we were secretly pleased with ourselves - now perhaps he was enjoying the same emotion of deep disappointment that we did when we received his next to useless survey report.

By now, we knew the Prelim Contract wouldn't be completed until after we'd left for home, but the Lawyer was suggesting it would be completed by the end of week commencing 20th June. So all we had to do was meet him and the Notary in Catanzaro on Monday 20th and we could rest assured all would be taken care of...

We arrived at Catanzaro in plenty of time but the directions soon turned into something out of the Crypton Factor. We knew we were close to the place we were looking for but seemed to be going around in ever decreasing circles. So you can imagine our relief when we finally parked up and met our Lawyer. Having had a quick coffee, he walked us towards the Notary's office then stopped and, in a scene like something out of Dad's Army with the 'black market spiv', we were furtively asked whether we could pay 400 euros for the interpreter. Now this wouldn't have been so strange, had it not been for the case that we had asked, on no less than 2 occasions in the week leading up to our visit, whether we needed to bring any euros and/or needed to pay for anything. We were expressly told on each occasion - no! So why were we suddenly being asked for money? A sob story about the guy having 4 kids and falling upon hard times was offered - very unconvincingly may I add. In any event, no-one's circumstances change that much in the space of 5 days. Like idiots, we allowed ourselves to be guided to an ever-so convenient cash machine and paid the money.

At the Notary's office, we met the interpreter - a decent enough guy but the song and dance routine looked far too rehearsed and I commented as much. All we wanted to do was get the POA sorted out and return to our B&B. The bit covering the POA was all straight-forward, then we sat and watched in bewilderment as the conversation turned to Italian wills. Now it must be said, we made our requirements very clear, right from the outset - we were purchasing the property in joint names and we wanted the property to be inherited in full by whichever survivor. Well, the Notary jumped up and brought a very large 'legal' book off one of the shelves, whilst the Lawyer, with furrowed brow, tried to explain the intricacies involved - this was very very complex... You would've thought we were the first Brits ever to buy a property under these circumstances - an unprecedented event. By this point, I was rapidly losing patience and turned to the interpreter and asked - ''are we the only British people who've ever purchased an Italian property?'' Sensing their amateur dramatics were having the exact opposite affect to that intended, they decided they would make further enquiries after we'd left. And that was it - thank God (sorry).

I must admit, I just felt relieved to have done what we'd set out to do and felt reasonably happy for that. By contrast and unbeknown to me, my wife was seriously hacked-off. We had a lovely evening and just before we switched the lights out she unloaded - and, when I stopped to consider everything, I knew she was right... It finally dawned on me that I had been far too relaxed with the Lawyer. I'd accepted the utter rubbish that I'd been fed in terms of ''things are done differently here'' and ''everything takes longer'' and ''don't worry about that - we'll take care of it later'' etc. etc.

The truth is - the less information the Lawyer can get away with giving you, the less accountable he will be, when things go wrong or don't happen on time. However reluctantly, we had allowed ourselves to lower our expectations and then not challenge things, even when we knew they were unacceptable.

The fact the Lawyer had asked for money when he'd previously told us none would be required, alerted us to the fact there was so much we still didn't know about the remaining costs. What other even larger surprises did we have waiting?

Before leaving Calabria, we took the decision to halt proceedings until and unless the Lawyer provided us with a full breakdown of the remaining costs associated with our purchase. We made yet another written request and despite everything, we still didn't receive a full answer.

To be continued.

Lessons learned:

1. If you don't understand the reason for doing something then ask why and don't do it until you receive a full written explanation that makes sense.

2. Don't accept the line - 'there's lot's of work the interpreter has to complete'. The fact is, most of the forms and documents are generic, so once they've been translated, it's often only minor alterations such as names and property details that have to be changed - this takes relatively little time. We believe the interpreter helped the Lawyer in his response to our initial complaint, as the English was many times better than that of the Lawyer. Nothing wrong with that but it also showed the other earlier documents and correspondence e.g. survey etc. had more likely been the result of using google translate or similar. So we suspect the Lawyer was charging us for translation that he was doing or not as the case might be.

3. Don't be hasty in following advice for additional work that necessarily results in extra expense. Ask why this is necessary and how it could be avoided. Seek a second opinion from someone ITK - the forum has a wealth of experience amongst it's members. Our experience suggests that the Lawyer almost certainly benefits from whatever additional work he can generate for his chums - think about it.

4. Absolutely refuse to pay anything over and above that which has been detailed and explained to you in advance and request a tax invoice. Not only were we fools to pay the interpreter fees when they were demanded but when we looked back, the Lawyer had stated the balance of his legal fees (after the initial retention of 1,000 euros) were payable at completion. Like a complete mug, I paid a further 1,000 euros upon demand, after we'd received the survey report. No other reason but I'd forgot the terms agreed.

5. In our experience, should a dispute arise, the only leverage you have is money. The more you pay, the less leverage you have. So don't pay a penny more than you have to until it falls due. Even then, make sure you're absolutely happy with the state of things before you press the button.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 6th, 2011, 10:16 pm 
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Dare I ask and can you say who the lawyer is?


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 12th, 2011, 8:52 pm 
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kathyb wrote:
Dare I ask and can you say who the lawyer is?


Hi KathyB - apologies for not responding sooner - just got back from a little holiday. I'll PM you.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 15th, 2011, 5:03 pm 
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Thanks Bear and Cub, for your pm, happy holiday I hope.

Not the same name as my "legal aid" , all the same just goes to show the sharks are circling in Calabria.

indigestion on porridge i hope is a discomfort....

Kathy


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 17th, 2011, 2:50 pm 
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Blog continued:

So we arrive home on 22nd June and had decided we would buy our house with or without our Lawyer. Every instinct suggested the trust and relationship between us and the Lawyer had broken down irretrievably and yet we gave him one last chance to redeem himself... For insurance, we decided to obtain a quote from an independent Notary recommended by our friends - we received a fully detailed quote for all costs within 24 hours.

We sent further e-mails to our Lawyer, reminding him of the fact we wanted a full breakdown of the purchase costs and a strict instruction not to proceed with any further work until we were satisfied with the information he was to supply.

Over the next few days we received several contacts including a grovelling phone call. All best summed-up as waffle, half-baked excuses and, 6 months after our first request, he gave us a partial answer on the costs. Wow - like for like, they were over 50% more than those we'd just received from the independent Notary - is this the reason why our Lawyer had been so reluctant to provide them in advance?

This was the final straw. With all we'd suffered with poor quality service, inexplicable and damaging delays, not to mention the significant expense already incurred, we decided to fire the Lawyer.

To try and put some perspective on matters - we'd instructed a Lawyer because we believed it was the best way to safeguard our interests. We expected and were willing to pay the fees required and all we wanted was a reasonable standard of work in return. We had now reached the stage where we trusted the vendors more than our Lawyer.

Perhaps the ultimate act of desperation was the e-mail we received advising that some issue had been discovered by the Notary and that we should not proceed with our mortgage application etc. under any circumstances. He couldn't tell us what the exact problem was but felt sure he would be able to deal with it. We advised the vendor because we knew he wouldn't. Long story short, they phoned the Notary who couldn't understand why the Lawyer had even mentioned it to us. It was a minor omission on the documenation and easily resolved. She was incensed that the Lawyer had triggered all this fuss needlessly...

We e-mailed the Lawyer advising him of our dissatisfaction and withdrew our instruction.

We detailed the main areas of our complaint. These included his repeated refusal to provide details of purchase costs, unacceptable delays that jeopardised our purchase and mortgage application as well as resulting in additional work (POA) and an extra unnecessary visit to Calabria, poor communication with the vendors - described by them as condescending and rude, failure to respond to and/or follow specific written instructions and last but not least, why the purchase costs associated with using his Notary and interpreter were more than 50% more expensive than our alternative.

The Lawyer's response was a complete denial of all allegations. He refused to offer any form of compensation and by some miracle, the work he'd completed came exactly to the amount we'd already paid him.

Of course we had anticipated this response so our follow-up included copies of his e-mails that backed-up every one of our allegations. Amid all the anger and frustration we did have to laugh at one thing. We'd explained how, over time, we'd established excellent lines of communication and consequently a good relationship with the vendors. He replied that he too had an excellent relationship with them. I copied part of an e-mail that described that if they'd received one more rude contact from him, they would withdraw from the sale. As with the other evidence, he couldn't respond...

He refused to engage in any further written communication and only after I started my posts on this forum did he respond with an offer of a meeting to discuss the 'misunderstandings'. He refused to agree an agenda whereby we all approach the meeting with open minds and a preparedness to consider financial compensation. We replied by listing 6 simple questions that we would want answers to and invited him to save us all time and inconvenience by answering them - nothing!

As far as our purchase is concerned, we're doing much better without our Lawyer. Matters quickly progressed to a Preliminary Contract and our mortgage application was submitted (in the nick of time - the Bank we're using withdrew from the non-resident market at the end of July). Had we followed the Lawyers final piece of advise, we would've had to start the whole process with another Lender.

Despite all the pain and heartache, with every visit, we love Calabria and more specifically, the property we are buying more and more.

So that pretty-much brings us up to date and our next blog will cover progress as it occurs.

We've received numerous PM's wishing us well and it's clear there are many examples of poor service from Lawyers. Some of them have had the joy of using the same Lawyer as us, so it's nice to know we're not the only one's...


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 19th, 2011, 9:41 am 
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Location: Carmarthen, south west Wales / Santa Maria di Ricadi, Capo Vaticano
I was fortunate that I was advised to use an Itlalian Lawyer that worked in an International Firm in London.
I met up with him twice, had all the documents transalted by him and signed the Preliminary Contract without any fuss. The cost was quite reasonable as well.
The Rogito was relatively straight forward organised by Donstenk.
Without doubt my advice is to use a UK based Italian Lawyer.
davidnam


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 19th, 2011, 8:55 pm 
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From the numerous accounts of dissatisfaction it would appear to be the safest option - at least (as far as I know) they would come under the jurisdiction of UK Law in the event of any disputes.

Having said that, I find it difficult to believe there isn't at least 1 decent Italian based Lawyer who takes a professional pride in delivering a reasonable service in return for a reasonable fee.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 20th, 2011, 10:11 am 
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bearandcub wrote:
Paolo/Anyone ITK,

Could you please explain exactly what services a lawyer should provide a client as part of an Italian property purchase?

From what we've been able to glean so far, it's something of a grey area.

For instance, on a UK property purchase, a solicitor would complete all the appropriate local and land registry searches, conduct due diligence in establishing clean title and no encumbrance etc. draw up the appropriate contract and handle all matters up to and including completion.

We've got the impression that in Italy, the Notary performs many if not all of the above.

On any property transaction our 1st instinct would be to use a solicitor/lawyer but it's difficult to understand what service they actually provide in Italy, when you consider the role of the Notary.


Good morning dear Bearandcub,

Shortly I can tell you that in Italy a Notary is a legal professional who works in civil law performing the public function in legal affairs. More exactly his role is to guarantee and certificate validity of contracts, witnessing signatures on documents and in general of all the agreements.

While a Lawyer is the person qualified to represent, assist and defend a party both in a legal process and in extra-judicial activities. In this view a lawyer (instead of the Notary who is impartial) acts in behalf of a party under a letter of engagement.

It Italy is fundamental to have a lawyer to be legally assisted step by step during the legal procedure. Because of this for every legal issue (also outside of the trial or just for a consulting) people should ask for a lawyer.

Actually the reasons to engage a lawyer in Italy are so many that I would invite you to read my article named “How and why buy a property in Europe” that can be found on our website www.zagamilaw.com.

Best Regards

Avvocato Paolo Zagami
Zagamilaw International Law Firm
www.zagamilaw.com


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2011, 7:55 pm 
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Hello Paolo,

Thank you for being the only Lawyer who is prepared to provide some answers.

I've read the article as you suggest and, whilst it provides a list of general reasons why you should employ a Lawyer, it still doesn't explain what exactly a Lawyer does. For instance, what exactly do you do in performing due dligence? What inquiries do you conduct and with whom, to ensure a vendor has clean title and the property is free from encumbrance? At which point in the process would you normally complete due diligence? Would your process differ for off-plan properties as opposed to a finished property already issued with a certificate of habitation?

My personal experience with an Italian Lawyer has been poor to the point I sincerely believe we'd have been better off not bothering, not to mention being well over 2,000 euros the richer.

If you have the time, please read my posts (above) and you will see exactly what we've experienced and you can then say whether this is representative or not.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2011, 9:47 am 
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Dear Bearandcub,

in most real estate transactions buyers would see a notary public only at the final stage of the conveyancing process, typically during the signature of the final deed of sale.
Often buyers have experienced problems because their interests were not properly protected in the early stages of the transaction, more specifically at the signature of the preliminary contracts, when they also pay susbtantial deposits.
We often read preliminary contracts where buyers renounce to a number of legal rights such us receiving certificate of habitability and ten yers insurance against structural defects before completion, or proper compensation for delays in completion, or the right to choose a notary public of their trust for completion. We often examine bank loan guarantees which are not legally compliant and therefore do not offer true protection in case of bankruptcy of the builder. Such problems are very difficult to be rectified after the signature of the preliminary contract. Furthermore excuting a full legal due diligence before entering in the real estate transaction will also help the buyer to better assess the value of the property. For such motivation it is advisable instructing independent legal representation from the early phases of the conveyancing process.

Avv. Giandomenico De Tullio
http://www.detulliolawfirm.com


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2011, 7:17 pm 
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detulliolawfirm wrote:
Dear Bearandcub,

in most real estate transactions buyers would see a notary public only at the final stage of the conveyancing process, typically during the signature of the final deed of sale.
Often buyers have experienced problems because their interests were not properly protected in the early stages of the transaction, more specifically at the signature of the preliminary contracts, when they also pay susbtantial deposits.
We often read preliminary contracts where buyers renounce to a number of legal rights such us receiving certificate of habitability and ten yers insurance against structural defects before completion, or proper compensation for delays in completion, or the right to choose a notary public of their trust for completion. We often examine bank loan guarantees which are not legally compliant and therefore do not offer true protection in case of bankruptcy of the builder. Such problems are very difficult to be rectified after the signature of the preliminary contract. Furthermore excuting a full legal due diligence before entering in the real estate transaction will also help the buyer to better assess the value of the property. For such motivation it is advisable instructing independent legal representation from the early phases of the conveyancing process.

Avv. Giandomenico De Tullio
http://www.detulliolawfirm.com


Sig De Tullio,

Thank you for your response. Would you like to comment on the overall service I recently experienced as detailed in my blogs earlier in this thread? I too believed a Lawyer would be a sensible option to protect my interests but was dismayed by what I found. What I and probably a number of other forum members would like to know is, what should happen and in what timeframe.

To any Lawyers interested:

I have already announced that the Lawyer we used was one listed by Dennis in this thread. In the sake of fairness to those not involved, I would be happy to confirm you are not the Lawyer in question should you request me to do so.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2011, 8:20 pm 
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Dear Bearandcub,

from your previous posts I understand that you have experienced a poor service using the services of a lawyer. I do not have the authority to comment on this because judging the professional services of a qualified lawyer is exclusive responsibility of the competent "Consiglio dell'Ordine degli Avvocati" (Italian Law Society). All I can say is that out of a negative experience it would be unfair judging an entire category of professionals.

Regards

Avv. Giandomenico De Tullio
www.detulliolawfirm.com


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: September 25th, 2011, 12:35 pm 
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detulliolawfirm wrote:
Dear Bearandcub,

from your previous posts I understand that you have experienced a poor service using the services of a lawyer. I do not have the authority to comment on this because judging the professional services of a qualified lawyer is exclusive responsibility of the competent "Consiglio dell'Ordine degli Avvocati" (Italian Law Society). All I can say is that out of a negative experience it would be unfair judging an entire category of professionals.

Regards

Avv. Giandomenico De Tullio
http://www.detulliolawfirm.com


That's fair comment and I'd like to think I haven't fallen into the trap of tarring all Lawyers with the same brush. Instead, I've made an open invitation to any Lawyer sufficiently interested, to describe in detail what they do in terms of the service they provide.

All I've seen so far is the usual 'high-level' comments and claims about protecting the clients best interests etc etc that frankly our Lawyer gave us. It infers a great deal but in reality, it details and commits to nothing. I believe this vagueness encourages unaccountability and until people have a realistic benchmark to judge against, these type of issues will persist and continue to give Italian Lawyers a bad reputation.

I'm not asking any Lawyer to condemn a fellow professional but I'm sure many people would be interested to know whether you feel the service we've described is typical of the service more generally provided.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2011, 6:38 pm 
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Blog continued:

Well it's difficult to believe it's taken over 2 months to progress to the point that our Lender has finally received all of the necessary paperwork from the vendor and has now instructed the valuation. We're hoping all goes well.

Having expressed our doubts about the quality of the legal representation provided by our Italian Lawyer, our eyes have also been opened by the protracted process that has been our mortgage application. It must be acknowledged that the banking crisis and general economic situation haven't helped but it's like a slow death...

Thanks to the delays caused by our Lawyer, we were always facing a race against the clock. Having previously blogged that CheBanca had withdrawn from the non-resident mortgage market, we were more recently advised they had rejected 80% of those applications still pending. Mercifully, our application is still in the mix but you can't help but think that the longer this goes on, the greater the risk of everything grinding to a halt.

Our attempts to open an Italian bank account continue, with our hopes now pinned on Barclays. However, the score so far is that we've had no response to 3 e-mails (to different contacts), a phone call to Italy resulted in us being advised we would need to call into their Roma branch and a personal visit to our local Barclays in the UK drew a blank also. It's now becoming a distinct reality that we will have to make yet another visit to Italy for the sole purpose of opening a Bank Account.

If and when our purchase is completed, no-one will be able to question our desire or resolve to achieve our dream. Maybe that's why it is like it is - the Italians only want people to live in their beautiful country who really really want to.

Back to the subject of Lawyers - I just checked that our first post on this thread was on 16th July. In that time, 2 Lawyers (DeTullio and Zagami) have attempted to answer the questions posed but seemed to lose their enthusiasm when pressed for more detailed answers. At least they attempted to respond. The others included on Dennis' list - Menata, Metta and Viscomi either do not want to engage or don't bother with the forum.

So nearly 3 months on and no-one has been able to tell me (and anyone else interested) just what an Italian Lawyer actually does for you.

Now I don't know whether I'm being unkind here but I'd invite anyone interested to consider this - if asked ''what are the principle tasks you have to perform as part of your job?'' I bet you'd be able to answer that quite easily. So why do our highly qualified and, one has to presume, reasonably intelligent legal friends find this so challenging?


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2011, 9:58 pm 
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bearandcub, you definitely don't need to go personally to Italy to open a Barclays bank account. Nicorelli at MariaGiulia.Nicorelli@barclays.it should be able to help you. She faxes the contract to your local Barclays branch and you have to go there to sign it. Sounds straightforward but the contract is approx 50 pages long and they fax 2 copies. It's not a lot of work for you but it is for the local branch sorting 100 pages from the fax machine! There are 2 types - dynamic and progressive - and they'll give you the more expensive one unless you specifically ask for the cheaper one (can't remember which way round it is). Hope this helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2011, 7:25 pm 
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eviegardner, once again we're grateful for your advice - we e-mailed your contact around 12th September and still haven't received a reply - you may remember advising she was on holiday until the 28th Sept. We'll certainly give her another go because at the moment we're contemplating a special 'bank opening' trip to Italy and that would probably make it one of the most expensive accounts anywhere!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2011, 7:39 pm 
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Sorry I forget that you had already contacted her. She's back from her holidays and replied to a query I had about changing PIN numbers for a debit card - you can't! Hope you get sorted.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 4th, 2011, 6:06 pm 
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Just received a response from Maria Nicorelli - Barclays will no longer open accounts by sending the documentation etc to your local UK Branch. You have to visit a Branch of Barclays Italia with passport and codice etc. I've posted this under the Barclays Italia thread also.

I've never had the goalposts moved on me as much!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 15th, 2011, 2:38 pm 
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Blog continued:

2 weeks on and we've received news that the mortgage valuation is all ok. Still no formal offer of mortgage but dare we say ''we can see some light at the end of the tunnel''.

Considering we started the process of buying our property back in March, could this be the longest time taken to purchase a property ever?

I can understand delays creeping in when you buy off plan, especially if there are delays/problems with the builder etc. but ours is an established property with vacant possession and no serious issues or irregularities with title etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 15th, 2011, 3:26 pm 
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Joined: April 7th, 2008, 10:06 am
Posts: 369
I don't know if you have given P.O.A. to someone in Italy but if you have they can open a bank account for you. Ours did and they can pay bills on our behalf when we are in the U.K. and we use our account in person when in Calabria. The bank is one in the town we are buying in.
This would save you they expense of going over just to open an account.
However, any excuse to go over to Italy may just be what you are looking for!
mags


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 16th, 2011, 6:38 pm 
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Joined: May 29th, 2010, 5:42 pm
Posts: 58
Thanks for the tip Mags - we did give POA to our Lawyer before we rumbled him. Mercifully we got rid of him before he could do any more damage. I wonder whether he could open a door without it becoming a massive problem let alone a bank account!!!

Anyway, flights are booked and we're heading back to Calabria - oh what hardship...


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 Post subject: Re: Italian Lawyers
PostPosted: October 16th, 2011, 7:05 pm 
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Joined: April 7th, 2008, 10:06 am
Posts: 369
When are you going over? We leave tomorrow for a quick trip. Return on Friday.
mags


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